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Holiday Guide 2012: Most Hackable Android Tablets of 2012

The Android tablet world has seen quite an influx of contenders in the last twelve months, and many of them are top notch. What was truly missing though, was a line of tablets that offered up the full range of hacking options. Enter the Google Nexus Tablets.

The Nexus line of devices has always been Google’s commentary on what the OEMs should be doing with their hardware, and how they should implement Google’s Android OS. Few have actually followed this, instead choosing to layer their own interfaces over hardware that is decidedly blasé. Towards the end of last year, rumors started to circulate that Google was planning a Nexus tablet, Eric Schmidt confirmed it, and in June they finally announced one: the Nexus 7. The Nexus 7 was essentially a retooled Asus MeMo 370t, born out of furious action between Google and Asus after CES 2012.

Google Nexus 7

The Nexus 7 debuted with obvious fanfare, and for good reason: It was the first official tablet from Google.  It packs the quad-core Tegra 3 T30L processor, a 7-inch 1280×800 IPS display covered in Gorilla Glass, NFC, 1 GB of RAM, and up to 32 GB of internal storage. While not the very ceiling in terms of specs, it handedly one-upped Amazon’s Kindle Fire, and offered a viable option for those waiting for a smaller option from Apple.

The development community for the N7, as it’s affectionately called, has embraced this device, and consumers have gobbled them up. Given its inclusion in AOSP, development is set to continue for much time. Because of this, the Nexus 7 is listed as one of the Most Hackable Android Tablets of 2012, but not THE most in our book.

Specific Threads:

 

Google Nexus 10

The Galaxy Nexus 10, aka N10, instantly enters the marketplace as a top-of-the line tablet with specs to die for. It features a dual-core Exynos 5250 processor (packing two ARM Cortex A15 cores and the incredibly fast Mali T604 GPU), a 10″ 2560×1600 PLS display that weighs in at 300 ppi and is covered in Gorilla Glass 2, a 5 MP rear-facing camera, a 1.9 MP front-facing camera, NFC, micro HDMI, 2 GB RAM, Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, and up to 32 GB of internal storage. All this comes in a package just 8.9mm thin, and weighing just 603 grams. And if that weren’t enough, it has full AOSP support. Google’s AOSP maintainer Jean-Baptiste Quéru (JBQ) had this to say this week about the N10 and AOSP:

Nexus 10 is now the best choice for AOSP work on 4.2. Everything except the GPU code is Open Source, and the only proprietary binaries besides the GPU libraries are firmware files that get loaded into the various peripheral chips. No flagship device so far has been so open, and no flagship device so far has had that level of AOSP support at launch.

And it’s precisely because of that tidbit of information that we name the Google Nexus 10 the MOST Hackable Android Tablet of 2012.

 

 

Notable Non-Mentions

Notably not included in this list is the Nexus 7 HSPA+ edition. While we wholeheartedly recommend the Nexus 7 to all those looking for a compact tablet, one must keep in mind that the newly released Nexus 7 HSPA+ has not yet been added to the AOSP.

Despite all previous Nexus devices being added to the AOSP at the time of release, Google surprised many by declining to comment on when (or even “if”) the Nexus 4 and Nexus 7 HSPA+ would gain support. It seems likely that this is due to licencing restrictions on proprietary GSM radio parts.

In light of this uncertainty, we caution against buying either of these devices if you seek the “most hackable” device. Certainly their high popularity should lead to considerable third party development here on XDA, but without true AOSP support, there are always risks of issues that cannot easily be rectified without source. And besides, if you choose to buy on principle, you would be better off supporting manufacturers and devices with full source already available.

 

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